We have received an application from Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services in Brantford, ON to transform four key areas into Smilezones. This summer our team will spend one weekend transforming these spaces with with sensory play, engaging murals, comfortable seating, colours that have been researched to have a special benefit to children on the autism spectrum and many more unique integrations to help the children at Woodview feel comfortable, stimulated and have fun during their visits to the Centre.
1. Create spaces for children and families that are;
c. Interactive for the children – particularly beneficial for children on the autism spectru ad. Ease anxiety and worries
f. Functional, practical and purposeful
2. To provide the children with opportunity to work on development skills while playing by including;
a. Sensory Tables
b. Sensory & Tactile Wall Panels
c. Themed, representing murals
d. Magnetic White board
e. Custom seating
f. Fresh paint
g. And more
Main Entrance/Waiting Room:We will be transforming the Main Entrance/Waiting Room where children, caregivers and family members, board members, donors and workshop attendees sit and wait for their appointments. This is the primary access point to the building meaning all of the 1,668 children pass through this area on a regular basis. The waiting area currently seats 7 in single chairs, 4 at the iPad bar and seating for 4 small children at the children’s table, often leaving clients standing and over-flowing into the hallway to wait.
Currently this area has limited, inaccessible and uncomfortable seating, lacks stimulants and offers very little opportunity for distraction or engagement for the children waiting for their appointments which can be up to an hour wait. The walls are a bland beige and the space does not adequately represent the quality of care offered.
The new space will have more seating which will be accessible to children of all ages, abilities and mobility needs and padded for comfort in an “L” shape to afford more space; sensory and tactile play to keep children occupied while they wait while also working on essential development skills through play; fresh paint; and calming, nature themed murals depicting the values of the community and of Woodview. The staff have also requested we paint the elevator doors to appeal to the kids, update the iPad bar and add more elements of interaction.
Outreach Waiting Room:The Outreach Waiting Room is for families waiting to receive services in the “fishbowl” boardroom or nearby offices or, if a caregiver needs, a break from video consultation. The staff and families at Woodview echo the same concerns; that this space does not afford any privacy with only two chairs and a toy box. This room is only divided by a glass wall that leads to the other side of the Waiting Room. 507 children used this specific room in 2019.
We will be adding in hospital-grade bench seating, warm and welcoming murals which reflect the children and youth in all of their diversity, abilities and diagnosis, sensory tables, lockable storage for coffee maker to add further safety measures for the children and a wall-mounted screen.
Group Waiting Room:The Group Waiting Room is on the lower level with very little, narrow space. This waiting room only has two chairs and a coat rack once again, leaving caregivers and their sometimes anxious or energetic kids left standing. This also poses an accessibility barrier for those with mobility needs.
This waiting room is used by those who will be accessing services in the buildings largest room; the Group Room. The Group Room is used by clients, staff and community partners for group sessions, workshops, youth/family engagement and community meetings. The Group Waiting Room is also a pass-through to the kitchen, Family Room and Sensory Room making it a high traffic area.
Woodview would like us to replace the scarce seating with our custom-made bench seating to afford more seats without losing any floor space, create custom cubbies for the kids to store their coats, boots, stuffies and other personal items which will provide them with a sense of ownership and belonging murals and of course, fresh paint.
Family Room:The Family Room which hosts a sofa, table and chair, storage bins and a children’s puppet theatre, is used for families and caregivers to meet with their Family Support Worker (FSW), family intake and therapy sessions and is often used as a quiet place for children, youth, caregivers and parents.
We will be making the space more inviting, uplifting and interactive by including sky tiles, a children’s castle with a half-wall entrance for the kids, sensory tables, tactile panels, tables, bench seating, a magnetic white board, bookcase, murals and paint. We will also remove the carpet due to accidents, making the room easier to clean, fresher and a cleaner feeling space.
Within their initial application to Smilezone Foundation, Woodview staff mentioned how the Smilezone spaces would benefit the children and families being supported through the services at Woodview. They mentioned how because they have been operating since 1960, the space is “sterile, cold and unwelcoming” to the children, youth, caregivers and siblings who go to Woodview seeking support for mental health and autism challenges.
Woodview staff mentioned how they applied for this Smilezone project so that they will have a space that is “inclusive and accessible to all families, where the clients can feel at ease, comfortable, cheered, and optimistic.” Our team plans to not only fulfill these wishes of the Centre, but also include sensory play opportunities and the other integrations mentioned above to allow the children and families to have the greatest possible experience during their visits.
As our Smilezone team are experts in childhood development, fire safety and disease control, we are confident in our ability to significantly enhance the experiences the children have at Woodview; making even their wait a beneficial, purposeful and therapeutic experience.